What Do I Know?

What Do I Know? Chris DeCardy

I was born in Urbana, Illinois, and grew up in Champaign, its “sister city,” about three hours south of Chicago. I spent my entire childhood there as the only child of a single mother. My folks were divorced when I was very young and, although my dad was in my life, my primary childhood influence …

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What Do I Know? Smokey Robinson

Everyone is born with a gift from God. Some people discover their gift, and use it to a positive end. Some discover their gift, but squander it. And others, for one reason or another, never discover their gift. I discovered mine very early in life. I was blessed with the gift of music, and worked …

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What Do I Know? Carol Brown

I was born in Columbus, Ohio. my father was the youngest of 10 children from an immigrant German family, and my mother hailed from a family of Irish immigrants. They fell in love very young and decided to get married, even though their parents did not approve. My mom was an amateur artist, and a …

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What Do I Know? Tim Parks

I was born in Louisiana, one of twin boys, in 1950, the product of my father’s second marriage. At the time, my mother was 33 years old and my dad was 61. My father’s father — my grandfather — was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1843 and, as a baby, came to this country to …

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What Do I Know? Sam Hazo

without a doubt, the course of my life was determined largely by my upbringing. My mother died when I was 6, and while my father was still around, my brother, Robert, and I were taken into the care of our mother’s parents and they raised us, with significant help from my mother’s aunt. My mother’s …

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What Do I Know? Dr. Robert M. Friedlander

“My mother’s father was born in 1905 in Pinsk, in the old Soviet Union. He was Jewish and had witnessed pogroms against his people, during which half of his family lost their lives. In fact, his father and some of his brothers were killed right in front of him. So, when he was 15, my …

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What Do I Know? Ed Gainey

I have to say that it feels good to be the mayor of my hometown, to be connected to the place where I was born and raised. My family is from the Hill District, but I was actually born in South Oakland. We were only the second black family to live on Lawn Street. My …

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What do I Know? Leslie Davis

My family is from New York, and my younger sister and I grew up in a suburban neighborhood on Long Island called “Five Towns,” which is about a 20-minute drive from Kennedy Airport. We were a typical 1970s family, except that my mother was an oral hygienist in a dentist’s office and loved her job. …

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An Exemplary Life – Sunil Wadhwani Tells His Story

I grew up in India and have lived in Pittsburgh for more than 40 years. I came here to study at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and then decided to stay. I started my first company here, which failed. My second company did better. It’s been an exhilarating ride — but the story starts a few …

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Christopher Howard: Living Life in the Moment

I come from a family of proud people who didn’t have a lot. My great-great-grandfather started out as an “enslaved human being” in Texas. Later, he and my grandfather were sharecroppers until my grandfather got a job in a factory. It’s kind of a Pittsburgh story: Man becomes “blue collar” because of factory work. My …

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Arthur Ziegler: The Power of Community

When I was growing up, my parents used to take me by trolley to East Liberty for a Saturday night treat, dinner at Gammon’s restaurant. In those days, East Liberty was considered our “second downtown” in Pittsburgh, and so I had a vague affiliation with the area. Many years later, I would learn what the …

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Andy Masich: Pittsburgh Has a Story to Tell

My father was an engineer and my mother was a trained actress who went to school at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University. (Her first kissing scene was with Carl Betz, a Pittsburgher, who played the husband on “The Donna Reed Show.”) My parents met while doing community and summer-stock theatre. I have a wonderful …

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Cameron Heyward, Gridiron Philanthropist

I was born in Pittsburgh on May 6, 1989. My grandma still lives here. When I was young, we moved around a lot because my dad, Craig Heyward, played 11 years in the NFL for five different teams. When I was 6, we moved to Atlanta so that my dad could play for the Falcons, …

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Karla Boos: “All the World’s a Stage”

As a kid, I lived in Wheeling, W.Va., but I wasn’t born there. My dad worked for Titanium Metals Corporation and, before Wheeling, we moved a couple of times around the country to places where Timet plants were located. I was 10 when we settled in Wheeling, so I think of myself as a West …

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Ken Gormley: Lawyer, Teacher and Author

I was the first person in my family to be born in Pittsburgh. My brothers and sisters have always said that this accounts for my “irrational” loyalty to the city. My dad grew up on a farm in Kentucky and was the odd person in his family—the one who left home to get a Ph.D. …

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Jim Roddey, Business Executive and Community Leader

I was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1933, when the city was still pretty small, and lived with my parents in a little house at the foot of a mountain. My father was the comptroller for the city but, more importantly, he was a passionate ham radio operator, and a lover of electronics—and flying. …

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Tim Smith, Pastor and Founder of Center of Life

My mother’s name was Emma Liaura Muskelly and my father’s name was Virlie—Virlie Joseph Smith. Mom was from Pittsburgh, one of nine children, and worked in many of the schools that my siblings and I attended, tutoring, doing teacher’s-aide stuff, and lunchroom work. Dad was from Virginia, a little place about 45 minutes from Roanoke …

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Randy Gilson, Genius of the Human Spirit

Life began for me on January 27, 1957, in Titusville, Pennsylvania. My dad was from there and my mom came from a dairy farm in Mercer. She was a little country girl who loved to play the accordion, and she’d always go down to the tent revival meetings because she also loved Jesus. That’s where …

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Lisa Schroeder, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation

I was born and raised in Baltimore and lived in Pittsburgh, twice. The first time was in the 1980s, for just a few years. It was a challenging time for the city. The economic repercussions of the collapse of industry were dominating everything. I returned in 1999, just as a group of 44 extraordinary citizens …

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Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University

I am an immigrant. I left my family’s home in Iran, as so many immigrants have, to pursue an education. My family hails from Tehran, and all of my siblings—five in total, all older—went to college in either Europe or the U.S. But I decided to begin my journey at age 16, and traveled from …

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John Kasich, Government Leader

I was born and raised in Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania, not far from Pittsburgh. It was a working-class, blue-collar town, but it was a positive place. I loved it there. As a kid, I played a lot of sports, and learned a great deal from that, about working together and trying hard. I was also blessed …

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John Robinson Block, Newsman

My twin brother, Allan Block, and I are the third generation in a family business that’s more than 100 years old. My grandfather, Paul Block, was an immigrant from East Prussia, and grew up, through his teens, in Elmira, New York. From age 10, he worked for a newspaper and learned how to sell advertising. …

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